Ten British women to receive womb transplants

Xavier Symons
16 Oct 2015
Reproduced with Permission

The UK's Health Research Authority has given the green light for ten British women to receive womb transplants, in a novel clinical trial run by London's Imperial College Healthcare.

The trial, due to begin early next year, will involve a marathon six-hour operation in which the participants will receive a womb taken from brain-dead donors. Some still question the safety of the procedure, which has only ever been performed once before. In 2012 Swedish doctors successfully transplanted a womb into a 36-year-old woman born without a uterus.

New York University bioethicist Arthur Caplan suggested that the risks of serious pregnancy complications may outweigh any potential benefits, such as gestating one's one child. "How much risk and cost should anybody go through to try and have the opportunity to deliver their own child?" Caplan said in an interview with CBS.

Others are more optimistic. A womb transplant could dramatically improve a woman's quality of life, said Lisa Campo-Engelstein, an assistant professor at Albany Medical College in New York.

The clinical trial is being run on donations, and the NHS has not revealed whether it will fund womb transplants based on the results of the trial.